On a Tuesday night I came home tired from work, but on a mission to fix what I truly was tired of – unnecessary early mornings. That morning, like many mornings I woke up 3.5 hours before my actual work day began. Where did the time go? One hour to journal and plan out my day. One hour for travel. And 1.5 hours dedicated to grooming. An hour of grooming time included makeup and hair. Hair takes the longest, and I dreaded it.
Everyday, for forty minutes I flat ironed my hair into a perfectly angled bob. But I was over investing so much time into my looks.
So that night, I washed my hair without straightening it. As it dried my curls sprang up like spring dandelions. I hadn’t seen my hair dry in its raw state like this in years. It intrigued me honestly, all the work I put into my hair to make it lay flat – the complete opposite of what it wants to do. In the morning I spritzed water on it and put a headband on for my mental comfort.
It’s funny the way people look at black women when we have a new hairstyle. They’re intrigued and want to ask, “how did you get your hair like that?” but aren’t sure if it’s offensive. They don’t want to say it’s nice but aren’t sure if it will read as your hair wasn’t nice before when they didn’t compliment you. And, they haven’t examined it enough to make a solid decision on if they like it or not. So they look and say “hiiiIIIii.”
The responses were broad. Here were the responses at work:
- A white woman (who I’ll name Susan) saw me in the bathroom mid-washing hands and immediately said she loved my hair. Susan than began talking about how she saw a documentary of Whitney Houston over the weekend and it made her sad. My hair reminded her of Whitney Houston “back in the day.”
- An older black woman who normally wears her hair straight asked if I
- cut my hair. She also asked how I “got it like that.”
- My supervisor said it was “springy.” My curls spring up. She quickly corrected herself to say she meant it gave a light and airy spring feel because of the curls.
- Some coworkers walked past me as they didn’t even recognize me. I’ll add to this, I also had on glasses for the first time. These coworkers said it was a combination of the hair and glasses that threw them off.
- Black women with natural hair empowered me and welcomed me to the club as their curl sister.
- Men had no comment – they just stared. I think many didn’t notice or were scared to say they did.
But the most important piece of it all was I felt good. I felt empowered to be in my authentic form. It took me half the time to style my hair in its natural state than it did to straighten. And, I actually liked my hair.
Here’s some quick tips I learned as a beginner natural:
Your Hair Will Not Always Come Out Like YouTube Tutorials
You can follow step by step from someone who has the same category hair as you, but the realism is styling your own hair and getting use to doing it takes time and practice. And while many vloggers offer step by step guidance, the styling needed for your fly-away, heat damaged hair strands and other problem areas may just be different.
Eco Styler Is Not For Everyone
Natural hair vloggers raved about Ecostyler olive oil gel and that it could be used as a wash and go. For me, this was a complete and epic fail. While the gel appeared to work the first few hours, it was not long before my hair was matted and sticky. I found that styling creams were best for me to make my curls pop while still feeling lightweight.
A Hair Pick Comb Is Your Best Friend
This comb is essential to adding volume and shape to your natural hair. Use it to not actually comb into your hair (as this will pull your curls out) but rather pull your roots out.
Headbands Are Your Second Best Friend
They’re the perfect safety net for when you’re just starting out and unsure of how to style the front of your hair. Go for standard color headbands that you can rock with any outfit.
You Can Co-Wash Your Hair A Few Times A Week
A co-wash is a cream cleanser that works to remove building and cleanse hair, and used as a substitute for shampoo. Many shampoos are filled with sulfates and other harsh ingredients. that strip hair of natural oils and can create dryness and frizz. It’s not daily wetting of hair that leads to dryness, but the constant stripping of oils. By using a co-wash, you can cut your hair wash down from two steps to one, and use it two to three times a week (or more depending on your hair texture).
Good luck to all the new naturals – we’re in this together!